Friday, 20 May 2022


Items filtered by date: July 2021

An insight into those present in Arsenal’s pre-season squad, and the club’s plans for their upcoming tour of Scotland, has been forthcoming on Monday.

Emirates influx?

Mikel Arteta’s men are of course currently ramping up preparations for the new season.

After enduring something of a nightmare campaign last time out, which saw the Gunners stutter to an 8th-placed Premier League finish, all associated with the club will no doubt have their sights set considerably higher for 2021/22.

To this point in the summer, the vast majority of the chatter when it comes to ongoings on the red half of North London has surrounded potential additions to Arteta’s ranks.

This comes with the Arsenal boss evidently of the opinion that his side remains in need of significant reinforcement, if a top-4 challenge is to develop next time out.

Links, thus far, have revolved chiefly around defenders and central midfielders, with deals for both Brighton star Ben White and Anderlect talent Sambi Lokonga understood to be close to completion:

First look at Tavares

What, though, of those already part of the Gunners’ squad?

Well, as outlined above, on Monday, an insight has been provided into the panel of players set to travel with Arteta and the club’s coaching staff as part of an upcoming trip to Scotland.

As confirmed by the reliable Charles Watts of, amongst the travelling continent are:

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe, Thomas Partey, Emile Smith Rowe, Hector Bellerin, Cedric Soares, Rob Holding, Sead Kolasinac, Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari.

Other noteworthy inclusions come in the form of Joe Willock, fresh off a thoroughly impressive loan stint with Newcastle United, January signing Omar Rekik (if his latest Instagram stories are anything to go by) and recent addition Nuno Tavares.

In the case of the latter, whose Emirates switch was made official over the weekend, it is added that the Portuguese is likely to be handed his first-team debut in a friendly meeting with Hibernian on Tuesday night.

Arsenal will round out their 5-day trip up north in a meeting with Rangers on Saturday.

Published in Sports

By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja/ THE NATION

A Federal High in Abuja has threatened to issue arrest warrants against former Aviation Minister, Stellah Oduah and eight others named in a charge pending should they fail to attend court on the next date.

Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the warning on Monday when Oduah (now a serving Senator, representing Anambra North Senatorial District) and some other defendants were absent at the proceedings with no explanation from their lawyers

Named with Oduah, as defendants in the charge, marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/316/2020 are Gloria Odita, Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi, Chukwuma Irene Chinyere, Global Offshore and Marine Ltd, Tip Top Global Resources Ltd, Crystal Television Ltd, Sobora International Ltd and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Nigeria Ltd.

In the 25-count charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC, the nine defendants are accused, among others, of engaging in the laundering of about N10billion.

They are particularly charged with conspiracy, money laundering and maintaining anonymous bank accounts with an old generation bank.

At the mention of the case on Monday, the court noted only the second and third defendants (Gloria Odita, Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi) were present.

The development prompted the prosecuting lawyer, Hassan Liman (SAN) to complain about the absence of the other defendants without any explanation from their lawyers.

‎Details shortly…

Published in Business and Economy

Our Reporter/ THE NATION

The British passport on which the re-arrested leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, purportedly travelled to Kenya, still remains in the East African country, The Guardian of London reported Saturday.

Kanu was re-arrested in Kenya in what the federal government called international collaborative efforts late last month.

Kenya had denied involvement in the operation.

Kanu later admitted to his counsel Ifeanyi Ejiofor that he was indeed nabbed in Nairobi from where he was flown to Abuja to continue his trial for treasonable felony.

But The Guardian in its report said evidence seen by it showed that Kanu entered Kenya this year on his British passport on a visa expiring in June.

It said the passport remains in Kenya.

The newspaper Saturday quoted Kingsley, Kanu’s bother, as saying he had spoken to him while he was in Kenya days before he went missing last month.

His words: “I spoke to him on the phone, he was well in Nairobi.

“His associates said he went out, he didn’t take his documents with him so he wasn’t planning on going anywhere.

“Then all of a sudden we see him paraded in handcuffs in Abuja.

“It is an extraordinary rendition, aided by Kenyan authorities.

“It is an outrage that cannot be allowed to happen. We are holding the Nigerian government and Kenyan government responsible.

“The British government, they know what is happening.”

Kingsly Kanu also said UK officials had made contact with the family and legal team and that there were concerns he would be abused in detention.

He said: “I am concerned for his wellbeing because you know how they will treat him.”

Kanu also claimed that his brother was not in possession of a Nigerian passport as he had verbally renounced Nigerian citizenship in broadcasts on Radio Biafra.

The British newspaper said abduction of a person from a foreign country with the aim of rendition to justice is illegal under international law.

But Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami has repeatedly denied that Kanu’s re-arrest was illegal as Nigeria applied due process in Kanu’s extradition.

“It was abundantly clear that bench warrant was lawfully and judiciously procured through judicial process by a competent court of law, whose bail condition Nnamdi Kanu breached with impunity,” the minister said last week.

He added: “There was no illegality in the entire process and the question of illegality does not even arise.

“It is a common principle of the law that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.”

Published in Headliners
Sunday, 11 July 2021 13:22

Sound Sultan dies at 44

By Samuel Oamen/ THE NATION

Popular rapper Lanre Fasasi aka Sound Sultan is dead.

The family of the 44-year-old ‘Jagbajantis’ crooner confirmed his death on Sunday in a statement.

Below is a statement from late Sound Sultan’s brother Dr Kayode Fasasi


Published in Entertainment
United States' Damian Lillard (6) defends the ball against Nigeria during an exhibition basketball game Saturday, July 10, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
United States' Damian Lillard (6) defends the ball against Nigeria during an exhibition basketball game Saturday, July 10, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — This is not how USA Basketball expected to open its Olympic summer.

Nigeria probably didn’t expect it, either.

If there was any expectation of invincibility for the Americans heading into the Tokyo Olympics, it’s already gone — after Nigeria beat the U.S. 90-87 on Saturday night, an international shocker pulled off by a roster primarily filled by little-known NBA players that found a way to beat a group of All-NBA, All-Star and max-contract performers.

“We just wanted to compete,” said Nigeria’s Gabe Nnamdi, who goes by Gabe Vincent when playing for the Miami Heat. “We know what USA Basketball means around the world and what they’ve stood for for so long.”

The U.S. had lost 11 games before Saturday in major international play — Olympics and World Cups, mostly — since NBA players began filling the American rosters with the first Dream Team in 1992. None of those losses came against a team from Africa.

“I thought that the Nigerian team played very physically, did a great job in that regard and knocked down a lot of 3s,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said. “Give them credit.”

Nnamdi led Nigeria with 21 points. Caleb Agada scored 17 points, Ike Nwamu added 13 and Nigeria outscored the U.S. 60-30 from 3-point range.

Kevin Durant, who had never before played in a loss for USA Basketball in 39 senior international games, had 17 points. Jayson Tatum added 15, Damian Lillard had 14 and Bam Adebayo 11.

“Just goes to show that we have to play better,” Tatum said.

A lot better.

The Americans had gone 39-0 in their last three Olympic seasons — including pre-Olympic exhibitions — on their way to gold medals and had been 54-2 in major exhibitions since NBA players began playing for USA Basketball in 1992. Plus, they’d beaten Nigeria by a combined 127 points in their last two meetings, one at the 2012 London Games, the other a warm-up for the 2016 Rio Games.

Nigeria lost to the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics by 83 points. Lost to the Americans again four years later in an exhibition, that time by 44 points.

Not this time.

“Nigeria’s come a long way with their basketball,” USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said.

Ike Iroegbu — a former Washington State player who some time in the G League — hit a 3-pointer with about 1:15 left to put Nigeria up 88-80. Durant scored the next seven points for the U.S.; a 3-pointer, two free throws following a turnover, then two more from the line with 16.5 seconds remaining.

Nnamdi made two foul shots with 13.2 seconds left to restore Nigeria’s 3-point edge. The Americans ran 9.7 seconds off the clock on the ensuing possession without getting a shot off, and Zach LaVine missed a pair of free throws — the second intentionally — with 3.5 seconds left.

Precious Achiuwa got the rebound for Nigeria, and that was it. It’s only an exhibition — but the upset was still of the massive variety, the 22nd-ranked nation by FIBA beating the No. 1-ranked team and three-time reigning Olympic gold medalists.

Popovich heard the final buzzer and shook hands with Nigeria coach Mike Brown, the Golden State assistant, as the Americans walked off stunned.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t mean much in the standings as far as where we’re trying to get to,” Brown said. “But it’s a good win for us. I don’t think any African team has been able to beat USA Basketball in an exhibition game or a real game. ... We’re trying to get a little bit of momentum for Nigeria and for the continent of Africa.”

The U.S. led 43-41 at the half, then pushed the lead out to 52-43 early in the third. But the Nigerians connected on 3s on their next three possessions — Vincent, Achiuwa and Nwamu all connected — and just like that, the game was tied.

Achiuwa took one 3-pointer all season with the Heat. It missed. But he connected in this one, as did Miye Oni — who made two 3s in the fourth quarter, including the one that put Nigeria up for good with 6:08 left. Oni averaged all of 1.9 points per game this season for Utah, and made two enormous shots late Saturday to help seal the U.S. fate.

“We kept the game simple,” Nnamdi said, “and came out on top.”


Nigeria: Achiuwa had perhaps the night’s top defensive play with 1:23 left in the first half, reaching with his left hand to block a Durant dunk attempt. ... Nigeria outrebounded the U.S. 46-34.

USA: Darius Garland and Saddiq Bey were Select Team players who got into the game. The Olympic team needed extra players because Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker are at the NBA Finals. ... The U.S. got 32 free-throw attempts to Nigeria’s 10.


Nigeria’s Chimezie Metu had a brilliant play in the third quarter — committing what would be goaltending in the NBA. Durant was taking a free throw, and as his shot bounced on the rim Metu reached up and knocked the shot away. That’s a legal play under FIBA rules.


LaVine got hurt in the second quarter on a play where he was closing out against Nnamdi. He went airborne after a head fake and came down awkwardly, grabbing at his left ankle before getting up and going directly to the U.S. locker room. LaVine was fine and returned in the third quarter.

Published in Business and Economy

By Linus Oota, Lafia/ THE NATION

  • They lured me to sleep with them, says errant lover

  • First twin sister: I couldn’t resist his swag

  • Second twin sister: First time was amazing, I demanded another round

  • I can’t be alive to see this shame — Distraught mother

It all sounds like a scene in Nollywood movie, but it is as real as daylight. Twin sisters had a baby each two months apart for a man their mother was dating and planned to marry after losing her husband in one of the incidents of the farmers/herders crisis that has rocked Nasarawa and other neighbouring states in recent times.

Thoroughly embarrassed by the ugly spectacle, the distraught mother of the twin sisters, Mrs Alice Ukange, is threatening to take her own life, saying that she cannot be alive to see “the shame” meted out to her by Philomina and Patricia.

Both Philomina, who was delivered of a baby girl in January, and Patricia, who was delivered of a baby boy in March, insist that they were impregnated by Mr Augustine Angwe, who had been dating their mother, Alice, since she lost her husband, Francis Ukange, after 14 years in marriage.

The couple were said to have been blessed with the twin sisters about four years after they got married. And with the death of Ukange, Alice resorted to combining farming with petty trading in order to make ends meet.

With life becoming extremely hard for Alice and her daughters, they relocated to Assakyo, a suburb community in Lafia, Nasarawa State capital, where she started buying raw food items from local farmers and selling same to make some money.

With this, she was able to send her twins to a public school in Assakyo and the family appeared to have found their feet until a wolf in sheep clothing found its way into their fold.

The poor mother had met Mr. Angwe, an indigene of Vandeikya Local Government Area, Benue state, in 2017 while the latter was in Nasarawa State to transact his business, which was buying raw food items from the local farmers and taking them to the Southeast to sell at higher prices.

In the course of doing the same business, Angwe and Alice met in a local market in Obi Local Government Area of Nasarawa State and they struck a relationship which within three months blossomed to the point that Alice relocated from Assakyo to stay with Augustine in Lafia where he had paid for an apartment.

In no time, Angwe, who had lost his wife and two kids in a fatal accident on Katsina Ala Road in Benue State and was yet to remarry, became a part of the family, rendering finance assistance to Alice’s female twins to meet their basic needs; a development that soon drew the twins very close to him.

Later, Angwe and Alice began a joint business, buying yams from local farmers in Nasarawa State and transporting them for sales at higher price in Lagos and Port Harcourt. The business flourished with Alice always on the road while Angwe took care of the home front and made arrangements for new stocks.

Meanwhile, one of the twin sisters, Philomina, had completed her secondary school and secured admission into the College of Education Akwanga to do a Pre-NCE programme while Patricia remained in Lafia for a diploma programme at the Nasarawa State Polytechnic.

Now a father figure to the twin sisters, Angwe allegedly started enticing them with luxury items and seized the chance to sleep with them at different locations until he got both of them pregnant.

Lamenting her condition in an interview with our correspondent, Alice said: “The man (Angwe) encouraged me and gave me some money to run this yam business, going from Nasarawa to Port Harcourt and Lagos. So I was always away and he took them as his own children. Little did I think that he could lure them to sleep with him.”

Alice believes that Angwe might have used a charm on her daughters to get them to sleep with him, saying: “How he was able to start sleeping with them so easily is what I don’t know. At 22 years, my twins are no longer kids. They are fully aware that the man is dating me.”

•The twin sisters, Philomina (left) and Patricia, with their babies
•The twin sisters, Philomina (left) and Patricia, with their babies

“It is unthinkable and unbelievable. He was visiting Philomina in Akwanga and using the opportunity to sleep with her in a hotel. He enticed her with luxury items and bought her a big phone. Back in Lafia, he was also sleeping with Patricia using the same tricks.

“I was always away on business trips while he stayed behind, looking for local yams to buy. When I noticed that they were both pregnant, they refused to tell me who was responsible for them.

“Before the untimely death of their father, he had warned them never to do an abortion, saying that any of them who tried to abort a pregnancy would die. The essence of it was to scare them so they would not destroy themselves early.

“So when the idea of aborting the unwanted pregnancy was mooted, the thought of their late father’s words came and we all became afraid. They also refused to disclose the person that was responsible. So out of anger, I left them alone.

“Incidentally, Mr Augustine (Angwe) too was asking me to leave them alone, saying that they would make their confessions at their own time. But one month, two months, three months and four months passed without them identifying the person. That was how they carried the pregnancies for nine months and were delivered of babies.” Shocking revelation

Alice recalled that two months the second of the twin sisters was delivered of her own baby, Angwe woke her up one night and broke to her the news that he was actually responsible for their pregnancies and that the new born babies belonged to him.

“I broke down in tears and cried for a whole week. I asked him what I had done to deserve this wicked act. It is a shame that my own fiancé is the father of my twins’ babies. How would I explain this shameful development to people?

“My husband was killed with members of his entire family when herdsmen invaded their village and cleared everybody in the village. We had travelled to Lafia for some medication and were the only surviving people in the family.

“I met Augustine as a gentle, nice and humble man. He treated me like my late husband. He cared so much about my twins. But he ended up ruining our lives. How can you be sleeping with me and my twin children at the same time?”

Our correspondent had got hint of the development early last month (June), but getting the parties involved in the matter to speak was a herculean task until he met Alice in Awe Market where she had gone to buy yams and she obliged to speak about it.

She said: “My name is Alice Ukange. I am a widow. I lost my husband here in Awe during the herdsmen/farmers crisis some years back. I met one Augustine Angwe in the course of my business. One thing led to another and we started dating ourselves.

“He appeared to be gentle, humble and kind. I was carried away and I allowed my twins to be close to him. He took time and planted evil in my house by impregnating them. “They have now given birth. I allowed it because their father warned them not to do abortion and that they would die if they did.

“Augustine has finished me. He slept with me, slept with my twins and impregnated them, and they have given birth for him.

“I am confused and have informed one of my late husband’s relatives and he too is speechless.

“Going to the police would not solve the problem as the damage has been done already. There is nothing the police can do, more so that Augustine is ever ready to take care of them. But the big question remains how a man would marry twin sisters.”

In a chat with or correspondent in Lafia, Angwe admitted impregnating the twin sisters, saying that he would have aborted the pregnancies but they insisted on keeping them. He also said the girls in question were the ones who lured him into sleeping with them.

He said: “I didn’t know that they would get pregnant. But when they did, I wanted them aborted but they refused, saying that their father warned them against it.

“My brother, these girls were actually the ones who lured me into sleeping with them. They enjoyed it the first time we had it. From what started like a joke, it became a regular thing.

“I know I have deeply hurt the mother but it has happen and there is nothing anybody can do. That is the work of the devil and I wholeheartedly accepted responsibility so as not to ruin their lives. They can pick up the pieces of their lives and move on after nursing the babies.

“To avoid the shame, I moved them to Makurdi. I will take care of the little babies. And if their mothers want to go to school after the babies might have walked, they can continue and I will support them. If they don’t want to stay with me, I will take my children while they continue with their lives.

“I have been begging the mother since I disclosed this information to her that I am responsible for it and I will take care of it, but she is still angry. I know that what I did was wrong. It is a taboo, but it is late to correct it.”

Our correspondent also travelled from Lafia to Makurdi to meet one of the twin sisters, Philomina, who was seeing nursing her new born baby.

Philomina said she was in a dilemma, adding that she wished that all that had happened to her never did. She added that both she and her twin sister, Patricia, were in agony.

She said: “I can’t really explain how I found myself here. I didn’t know that the man was sleeping with my twin sister too. I know that he was dating my mother, but how he got to impregnate me, I don’t know.

“I think I have made one of the biggest mistakes ever. How did I get here? Augustine (Angwe) is my mum’s lover and I know it quite well. But every time he came visiting me in Akwanga, I just had this feeling. He is very attractive and there is a unique swag about him.

“I started messing with him in Akwanga. There was a time he came to Akwanga in the evening and decided to see me. My mum had travelled to Port Harcourt on a business trip. He called me to meet him in a beer palour and he was there alone drinking beer.

“We began to talk and I eased my way over to him. He was resistant at first, but that just made me more excited. I low key seduced him and our affair began. Every time my mum travelled, he would come over and have sex with me.

“I knew him when he started dating my mother and we were intimate right afterwards. So when I missed my period, it took me some time to disclose to him that he was responsible for it. I didn’t also know how to break the news to my mum

“Well, the worst has happened. My late father warned me not to do abortion and my child deserves to have a father. She will walk and I will return to school to pick up my life. That is all I have to say.

“As for getting married to him, she said it is not possible. I will further my education.”

Our correspondent also visited Gboko where Patricia was also nursing her new born baby boy.

She said: “The first day I had sex with Augustine, my mother went to Obi Market. It was in the morning. My mum left us at home. She forgot some money and returned to pick it.

“She almost caught us but I lied about it when she asked what we were doing. She suspected something, but the trust she has in Augustine convinced her.

“The thing is she got a glimpse of me while I was fixing my clothes up and asked why I got undressed in the morning hours.

“I told her I was trying out the new outfit I had just bought. In the whole of that time, Augustine was in the bathroom cooling off. She didn’t question me any further. She picked up her money and left.

“It was amazing. I see why my mum loves Augustine so much. So when she left, I decided we should have a second round, because I enjoyed it, and we continued at every little opportunity.

“When I missed my period, I was actually afraid to tell my mum that Augustine was responsible. I had thought about abortion to just mask everything, but remembering the warning our late father gave us about abortion, I decided to leave it.

“I have brought shame to my mother and the entire family. May God forgive all my sins. I never knew it would get to this level. I was doing it blindly and it has consumed me.”

On her future plans, she said she would hand the baby over to Angwe at the appropriate and move on with her life.

“I can’t marry him. I will nurture his son for him and walk away.”

Mr Clement Agbe, a relation to the late husband of Alice, said that what had happened in the family was strange to the culture of Tiv people.

“It is a taboo. But let’s see what the future holds for the new born babies. It is unthinkable.”

The Public Relations Officer of the Nasarawa State Police Command, Mr. Rahman Nansel, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, said the matter had not been reported to the command.

Published in News & Stories

By Vincent Ikuomola Abuja/ THE NATION

Kenya government on Friday denied involvement in the arrest of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, saying “it does not want to be dragged into Nigeria’s internal affairs.”

Kenya High Commissioner to Nigeria, Amb. Wilfred Machage spoke in Abuja on Friday.

He said; ” I wish to categorically state that we are not happy at this ridiculous attempt of dragging the name of Kenya and President Uhuru Kenyatta on this matter of arrest and extradition of self-claimed IPOB leader.”

Published in News & Stories

The arrest and trial of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the outlawed IPOB, is going to dominate the news for many months to come. The trial promises to be a cause celebre, one of those rare cases in which politics, criminality and sensation are mixed with high drama. It is indeed a fitting irony that Kanu, despite his frenzied rhetoric, including referring to his country as a zoo, he was still sober enough to carry a Nigerian passport. We look forward to many more sting operations that would bring to justice leaders of Boko Haram terrorist group and other outlaw organisations.

Many of the young supporters of Kanu roaming the streets of Igboland, believe that they are campaigning for the rebirth of the ill-fated state of Biafra. They think that the last Biafra War has ended. It has not. The last Biafran War cannot and would not be truly concluded until the leaders of the Igbos decide to return the body of Colonel Victor Banjo to Yorubaland. Banjo was an accidental Biafran. He died for Biafra.

Banjo was executed on September 22, 1967 at the end of a secret trial ordered by Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the Head of State of Biafra. He was 37. Banjo’s dark end was the sorry denouement of a brilliant career in the Nigerian Army. Those executed with him were Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Phillip Alale and Sam Agbam.

Banjo was at the centre of a web of events that climaxed in the Biafran invasion of then Mid-West State (formerly Mid-West Region and later known as Bendel State and now divided into Edo and Delta states). Ojukwu, the Head of State of the Republic of Biafra, had asked Banjo to lead the invasion as the commander of the Biafran 101st Division. The invasion ended badly and that may have been what earned Banjo his death sentence.

By 1966, Banjo was one of the few Yoruba officers in the Nigerian Army, which was then dominated by soldiers from the North and officers from the East. After the first coup of January 15, 1966, Major-General J.T.U Aguiyi-Ironsi, became Nigerian first military Head of State and the Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces. He decided to work with younger officers of the rank of lieutenant colonels whom he appointed as military governors. That action might have been due to the fact that all the senior officers of Northern Nigerian origin have been killed in the first coup. The lone survivor was Lt Colonel Yakubu Gowon whom Ironsi quickly appointed the Chief of Army, a position that was vacated by Colonel Adeyinka Adebayo who had now gone on an overseas course.

All the surviving colonels and senior lieutenant colonels were retained in the Defence Headquarters in Lagos to work with Ironsi. Brigadier Babafemi Ogundipe, the most senior officer, became Ironsi’s deputy. Colonel Shittu Alao moved to the fledgling air force. Banjo had earlier been appointed as the first Nigerian commander of the Engineering Corps of the Nigerian Army. That appointment was to be his passport to hell.

On January 17, 1966, two days after Ironsi came to power, Banjo was invited to State House Marina, ostensibly, to meet the new ruler. There he was seized by soldiers, led by Lt. Colonel George Kurobo and Major P.A Anwuna and detained at the Army Officers Mess. He had told his wife and children that he was going to work. He never returned.

For some days, he was kept in the comfortable environment of the Army Officers Mess. Then he was transferred to the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, Apapa. Banjo felt he had been unfairly treated and he petitioned Ironsi. Ironsi ignored him. Then on July 29, 1966, Ironsi was in Ibadan for a meeting with traditional rulers across the country. After the meeting, Ironsi retired to the Government House, where his host, Lieutenant Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, the young military Governor of the West, treated him to a lavish dinner. That night a group of coup makers, stormed the Government House and kidnapped both Ironsi and Fajuyi.

For three days, Nigeria had no government. Then on August 1, 1966, Lt. Colonel Yakubu Jack Gowon, a lanky bachelor of 32, was announced as the new Head of State. Banjo was happy with the development. Gowon was his friend and old mate. He believed he would soon be out of prison. He was wrong. He petitioned Gowon for his freedom, but Gowon ignored him also. Instead, he was moved from Kirikiri Prison to a prison in Eastern Nigeria. When Ojukwu declared Eastern Nigeria as the independent Republic of Biafra, he ordered the release of Banjo and made him the General Officer Commanding a Biafran army division.

At the beginning of hostilities, the West and the Mid-West had tried to maintain some neutrality, not allowing troops to be deployed from their territory against Biafra. However, Ojukwu ordered a blitzkrieg against the Mid-West and within 24 hours almost the entire region was occupied. The invasion was led by Colonel Banjo.

The mission of Banjo however was beyond Mid-West. He was to lead the Biafran invasion of the West and Lagos and proclaim the independence of Western Nigeria from the Federation. The success of that invasion was to cause serious rift between Ojukwu and his old friend Banjo. Banjo objected seriously to the appointment of an Igbo man, Lt. Colonel Albert Okonkwo, as the Military Governor of the new Republic of Benin. Banjo felt a soldier of Mid-West origin should have been appointed. Ojukwu disagreed.

In his letter to Banjo, dated August 22, 1967, Ojukwu had made it clear that he intended to hold on to all the aces. Three points in the letter were especially disagreeable to Banjo:
1.You will have nothing to do with the Military Administrator of the Mid-West territory during your sojourn there prior to your move to the West.
2.During the period of Biafran’s troops presence in your territory, all political measures, statements or decrees, shall be subject to the approval, in writing by myself or on my authority.
3. Should our troops arrive and liberate Lagos, the government of the Republic of Biafra reserves the right to appoint a military administrator for the territory.

Ojukwu promised that Banjo would be proclaimed the military governor of the new Republic of Western Nigeria. Banjo believed that such a governor should be a partner and not a subordinate to the Head of State of Biafra. Ojukwu disagreed. Of course, Banjo would not concur that Ojukwu should appoint a military administrator for Lagos. He regarded Lagos as part of the West.

The disagreement between the two men was protracted and ultimately costly. Ojukwu insisted on having his way and in the end Colonel Okonkwo was made the Head of State of the new Republic of Benin. The delay in Benin allowed Gowon to rally Federal troops and Colonel Murtala Muhammed led the Second Division to confront Biafran forces at Ore, Ondo State. They were joined by troops from the Ibadan Garrison Command (IGC), led by Colonel Olusegun Obasanjo. The Biafrans were routed and the new Republic of Benin was quickly buried.

It is time for Igbo leaders to identify where Banjo was buried and return his body for proper burial in the land of his ancestors. Despite the travails and tragedies that befell him, Banjo stood for principles that only heroes could have espoused in the face of serious personal peril. No true lover of freedom would agree to all those conditions that Ojukwu tried to impose on Banjo. Rather than the lion to carry the hunting bag of the tiger, let each hunter hunt alone.

Published in Parliament

What can we really and honestly make of twenty-two years of unbroken democracy in the country? When Babangida and his military travellers wanted to bequeath their brand of democracy to us, many were deceived to believe that they meant well for the country. From 1985 to 1993, the nation was dribbled the way the Maradona and his kitchen cabinet knew best! From Option A4 to two political parties (Social Democratic Party and National Republican Convention), we were all fooled. June 12, 1993, was to be a watershed in the annals of our political evolution, but it was destroyed.

The presidential election of June 12, 1993, produced M. K. O. Abiola with Babagana Kingibe, his running mate both Muslims as winners of the annulled presidential election. God bless Nigerians who put aside religious bigotry and sentiment and voted in Abiola and Kingibe. Regrettably, for illogical, self, and unpatriotic reasons, Abiolas mandate was scuttled. Then the macabre dance started. Earnest Shonekan, a lawyer and businessman was brought in as the Head of the Interim Government with General Abacha superintending over his affairs. It was the worst scenario that ever emerged in the nations political history.

For three months, the nation became rudderless, and anarchy took over the land. The people took to the streets demanding the restoration of the mandate freely and fairly given to Abiola. Capitalising on the situation, Sani Abacha dislodged Shonekan. He became the Head of State from November 1993 until his death on June 8, 1998. Abdulsalami Abubakar was sworn in to assume the leadership of the country following the mysterious death of Abacha. Abubakar was in a hurry to hand over and in the process, left many things undone. And things that were done were full of the contraption and land mines.

The worst document ever bequeathed to a nation was a fraudulent Constitution that has become our albatross. General Abubakar assaulted our intelligence and collective aspiration by giving his own brand of the constitution that was never discussed, debated, and agreed upon by the people of this country nor its representatives. No referendum. Indeed, it was after Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in on May 29, 1999, that the voodoo Constitution surfaced. The euphoria of the newfound democracy, even with the time bomb, prevented the country from demanding a Peoples Constitution. We are now carrying the cross of our naivety, indiscretion and unbridled trust of the military leadership that ruled the country despite their notoriety for deception, maladministration, and mind-management.

Since May 29, 1999, the country has been plagued by monumental problems making the essence of democracy largely a mockery. Obasanjo presided over our new democracy like a ruthless and uncompromising leader. He hardly spared any opposition. The Odi people, the Zaki Biam massacre, the dislodgement of Southwest (save Lagos State) governors through deception, the turbulence in the National Assembly, the abduction of Governor Ngige, and other atrocities perpetrated during his regime did no credit to him. The privatisation programme of his administration was a disaster. To his credit, he got the country off the hook of the World Bank and the International Monetary Funds debt debacle. The global system for mobile telecommunication (GSM) was introduced during his administration.

After eight years (remember the Third Term Agenda that the full and true story is yet to be revealed), Obasanjo foisted Umaru Musa YarAdua on us. A calm, humble but sickly man, he could not achieve much before he transited to the world beyond. His short administration was characterised by policy somersault as his medical condition could not allow him to firmly take charge of the administration of the nation. His deputy, Vice President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was sworn in with the invocation of the doctrine of necessity, as the country’s President. It is however, on record that he addressed the Niger Delta imbroglio.

Jonathan started well but events later proved that he was ill-prepared for power. He had too many powerful people with different agendas in his administration. He was portrayed as a weakling. Despite his claim to scholarship as the first President with a Ph.D degree (Zik never had a Ph.D degree), his administration was bereft of intellectual concord and direction. It is lamentable that his administration produced the worst set of treasury looters in the country infamous history of treasury looting and decimation of our common patrimony. However, Jonathan was not arrogant with power. He was a gentleman who never believed that his ambition was worth the blood of any Nigerian. The Boko Haram sect that levied war on the country from the era of Obasanjo was critical to his fall from power.

General Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as president on May 29, 2015. Nigeria and Nigerians craved for change in our socio-economic, political, security, and structural arrangements. Unfortunately, the last six years have been quite harrowing, excruciating and debilitating. Initially, we were confronted by the declining health status of our President. After several months of treatment, he was stabilised. But the country health was devastated in the process. Many critical issues could not be attended to, and the nation was left in mumbo jumbo.

The six years of PMB has been a mixed bag. In the provision of infrastructure, we must give it to his administration. Many of our critical but neglected infrastructures are being attended to. The road, rail and air transportation systems are being given fillip. Attempts are being made to get some of our poor people out of poverty.

On the downside, the economic situation of the country is still comatose and has defied solutions. Our monetary and fiscal policies are intractable leading to the pauperisation of the citizenry. The country’s currency is now akin to the old Italian lira and Ghanaian cede! Our external reserves are on the downward swing. Most states in the federation are heavily in debt and can hardly survive without massive borrowings. The country is heavily indebted, yet we are behaving like the proverbial prodigal child by attempting to extend facilities including rails services to the Niger Republic when we cannot satisfy the nation!

Insecurity has plagued our nation and the worst is happening under the administration of PMB. No part of the country is immune from insecurity. Insecurity rears its head in different perspectives including kidnapping, armed robbery, banditry, insurgency, internecine conflict, and the rest of them. They all appear intractable despite the enormous resources being deployed to combat them.

Poverty and unemployment have taken over the country, notwithstanding what the government is telling us. It is now so bad that our country has been labelled the poverty capital of the world. Our youths are moving out of the country in droves because of unfulfilled dreams and expectations. Corruption, despite the claim of government, is still hydra-headed and untamed.

Perhaps the worst legacy being bequeathed to us as a nation is parochialism as the government of PMB is not remorseful about concentrating major appointments to his part of the country. This attitude is affecting national cohesion and integration. Members of his cabinet and close aides only tell PMB what is pleasing to his ears. In his own case, PMB appears unperturbed about the happenings around him. We cannot continue this way.

Our country is not a federation. Neither are we practising true federalism. Restructuring that most parts of the country are craving for is being ignored. Things are definitely falling apart in the country, and it is only desirable that we wake up from our lethargic status.

A new Constitution for the people by the people to replace the voodoo and pseudo-Constitution foisted on us by General Abdulsalami Abubakar is the only way to security, sanity, good governance, and development. The twenty-two years of unbroken democracy have been a curse to the nation. We can turn things around by doing the right things. If the right things are done, the country can take its pride of place in the comity of blessed nations.
Democracy should be a blessing, not a curse. It is so far, so bad!

Yusuf, Ph.D, is a lecturer at the University of Lagos.

Published in Parliament

Founding father and President of Zambia, Kenneth David Kaunda (1924-2021) would be remembered as one of those rare revolutionaries that won independence without bloodshed.

Kaunda led with exceptional love for humanity and emotions for his people. Though he was politically imperfect, his foibles forgivable, he remains an icon of nationalism and of courageous leadership that today’s African countries need urgently.

Born in April 1924, in Lubwa, then Northern Rhodesia, young Kaunda had a good parentage and tutelage in a family of eight children. At the foot of his father, a reverend in the church, he learnt two commandments that stuck with him lifelong: love God and love your neighbour. The second is the golden rule: “Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you.” Indeed, he loved the people with great emotions that welled up tears on their behalf. And despite provocations of colonialism and injustices of white minority rule, Kaunda neither betrayed formative values nor descended into violence. Reading works of Mahatma Gandhi in and out of British-run jails further strengthened his iron resolve on non-violence liberation revolts, coupled with self-renewal by which gave up drinking and smoking. His liberation push in the 1960s was famously known as the “cha-cha-cha” campaign, rallying for a nation that is home to everyone, including Europeans.

Upon winning independence in 1964 and renaming Northern Rhodesia to Zambia, Kaunda kept his promise of a cosmopolitan country that works for all. He lived simply and in solidarity with the poor. While he resided in a house without dedicated power and running water, he was building roads, houses, schools and clinics in Zambian suburbs for the comfort of the people. And before long, the new Zambia became a land of wealth from the export of copper and respect for all races, colours and religions.

Kaunda was a man of good reasoning and ideas too. And he was never shy of executing even the unpopular ones. KK, as he was also called, invented “Zambian Humanism,” a moral philosophy from an admixture of Christian teachings, socialism and African traditions – for all to live by and in unity. The central theme was the primacy of man and human equality; no fellow should be richer than another, no man should exploit another, each person has value and dignity.

Fallout of his utopia was a weird idea about political opposition in a democracy. He reckoned that tolerance of opposition in a multi-cultural and multi-party democracy could only embolden enemies to undermine his rule and tear the country apart. So, for 26 of his 27 years in power, the strongman-president was hostile to opponents, silenced and imprisoned dissents like Simon Kapwepwe and kept shifting the goal post of the ruling party to prolong his stay in office. With a firm grip on the wheels, Kaunda routinely won presidential elections unopposed with 80 per cent majority.

But the centrepiece of the Zambian economic boom was its doom too. Apparently, in accordance with the philosophy of equality and an attempt to eliminate class conflicts between foreign miners and local farmers, Kaunda nationalised the copper mines in Zambia, froze miners’ wages and prices. The move proved suicidal; discouraging farmers, miners and investors alike. By 1974, a global decline in copper receipts rendered Zambia broke. Instability in neighbouring countries and spike in petroleum prices all made import and export of goods impossible for landlocked Zambia. Its woes were compounded, becoming one of the most indebted countries in the world.

After years of hesitation, Kaunda’s Zambia submitted to the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1989, introduced austerity measures that cut off food supplies to the people. Attendant riots and multi-party elections in 1991 got him booted out of office in a landslide. By then, his stature had diminished with more than 70 per cent of the people living in poverty and the country indebted to the tune of $7 billion.

Though he was unlucky and left the country in tatters, his remaining gracious even in defeat is a countervailing model for sit-tight leadership syndrome bedevilling Africa. Kaunda, the second African leader to step down after an election, left peacefully without plunging the country into war. He showed that leadership was all about putting the interest of the people first, coupled with the sanctity of peace and unity. These are all embedded in the underlying principle of true love and compassion for commoners, which he showed with the intent to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. Indeed, not only did his soft side wept in public, using his trademark white handkerchief to douse his tears, he also actioned his emotions to ease the suffering of the people. That was immeasurably pleasing from an African perspective where authoritarian and corrupt leaders reign supreme. Kaunda was a reaffirmation that Africans are capable of self-governance if only the best among them lead.

His legacy of leading from the heart and a rallying force on the continent is also unforgettable. He was committed to the course of a free and prosperous African continent, as Zambia became a refuge for anti-colonial campaigners for decades. Kaunda was a rare optimist that believed in Africa depending on itself to get it right both politically and economically. It is for these reasons that the Zambian President, Edgar Lungu, declared Kaunda “a true African icon,” South Africa’s former President, Thabo Mbeki, called him “a great African patriot,” while Namibian President, Hage Geingob, remembered him as “among those extraordinary personalities who told us to get up and fight for our continent.” From 1991 till he breathed his last on June 17, at 97 years, in a Lusaka hospital, he remained an active statesman and father, once again winning the heart of many Zambians as their icon of the liberation struggle. Kaunda was indeed a man of the people!
Published in Parliament
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